As the race to develop a COVID-19 vaccine continues, California Gov. Gavin Newsom unveiled coronavirus updates and responses Monday, touching on topics ranging from case numbers to immunization.
Beginning last week and extending through this one, California experienced an unprecedented rise in cases, which is being felt on a global scale, Newsom said during a press conference. A record number of 296,000 tests were conducted Saturday, and the state holds a seven-day average of 11,591 positive cases.
“We are not ashamed or shy about testing nor determining those that are positive,” Newsom said during the press conference. “It’s fundamental, it’s foundational in our COVID response. The more people we test — and testing is increasing — we expect to see these case numbers go up.”
At the national level, the United States has a seven-day COVID-19 positivity rate of 9.8%, while California’s respective rate is 5.8%, which is an increase from the week prior, according to Newsom.
He went on to note that the disease transcends different age groups, and people ages 18-49 now constitute nearly 60% of all cases, Newsom said.
There has also been an increase in hospitalizations, as California is now at 7% of its health care system capacity, which is 2% more than last week, Newsom said. If the COVID-19 trends continue on this path, California will make use of its 11 surge facilities that contain nearly 2,000 beds.
“We have not just been sitting on our hands; we have not been sitting back idly. We have been preparing for this winter,” Newsom said during the press conference.
Over the last months, the state has also accrued a backup supply of personal protective equipment, with more than half a billion units in essentials including surgical masks, N95 respirator masks and gowns, Newsom added.
As increasing cases herald a restriction of normal activities, California issued “limited stay-at-home orders,” Newsom said. More specifically, all nonessential activities in purple-tiered counties must stop from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m., effective until Dec. 21.
There is also a travel advisory discouraging all nonessential out-of-state travel and promoting a 14-day self-quarantine upon reentry into California, Newsom added.
Amid recent vaccine breakthroughs, California developed a phase one vaccination distribution plan, which prioritizes health care workers, people living in congregate facilities or with medical vulnerabilities and first responders, Newsom said.
He added that he anticipates the Food and Drug Administration’s approval of a COVID-19 vaccine by early December, but mass vaccination is unlikely to occur anytime soon.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has provided California with $28 million for vaccine distribution as of press time, but additional funding will be needed, Newsom said.
“We’re not reacting to this moment. We’ve leaned into it; we’ve been proactive,” Newsom said.